Grider Field Airport to undergo renovations
Pine Bluff Regional Airport at Grider Field has been a staple in the region since 1941. From a training center, home to flight training courses, and celebration of the Black Pilots of America during Memorial Day, this airport hosts pilots from all over the country.
Much-needed renovation projects are underway, thanks to the US bailout package promulgated by President Biden on March 11, 2021, which includes $ 8 billion in funds to be provided as economic assistance to eligible US airports to prevent, prepare and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
To distribute these funds, the Federal Aviation Administration created the Airport Rescue Grants, which make grants available to all airports that are part of the national airport system, including all commercial service airports, all emergency airports, and some public general aviation airports.
At the Pine Bluff Aviation Commission meeting on Thursday chaired by Ken Johnson, airport manager Doug Hale gave an update on the two projects currently underway.
According to Hale, the taxiway, which is the path that allows aircraft to get to and from the runway, is currently being extended to pass by the runway.
“The runway was laid in 1947 and when they set up the original runway and taxiway at the south end they had a small detour which, looking at some historical footage of other airfields that appeared to be a common practice back then in the 1940s and 1950s, ”Hale said.
Hale said that when the runway was extended from 3,500 to 6,000 feet, rather than straightening the deviation into the taxiway, the curve became part of the extension.
“This is considered a non-standard deviation on an airfield,” Hale said. “We asked to straighten it and the FAA gave us a grant to do it. The project will cost around $ 2 million and is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.
In addition, an upgrade to the lighting system that illuminates the runway and taxiway is being carried out simultaneously.
“Our existing track lighting system is over 30 years old and we’ve had some maintenance issues with it,” Hale said.
According to Hale, his staff are responsible for maintaining 250 lights on a dilapidated system that has had several problems over the years. The new system will replace old canned fixtures, provide new conduits for wiring and new LED fixtures.
The runway and taxiway are equipped with lighting for illumination and nighttime operation so that the runway and taxiway are visible.
The taxiway has blue globes so pilots can tell the two apart. The track has white lights with the last third of the track illuminated with yellow lights to warn pilots that the track is about to end.
“The new LED lights will be brighter, more visible and require less maintenance,” Hale said. “This is a significant upgrade for our airport. It is well beyond its expected lifespan. We are late for an upgrade. Other improvements to the airport include the pilots lounge.
New leather furniture has been delivered and provides a relaxing atmosphere. Hale also wants to add a charging station in the lobby after noticing how more and more electronic devices are being used for navigation purposes.
“It would be a good addition,” he said.
“As an aviator, as a pilot, these things are very important for airport security and for travelers who come to town and use our facilities here,” said Johnson, who said Hale asked. these improvements for years. “I’m happy to see it come to fruition. This is a big plus for the town of Pine Bluff.